If you’re into photography and love the outdoors, especially wildlife and the picturesque scenery of nature, then nature photography is likely an area which appeals to you.
If you have been interested in nature photography for a while, or have looked into inspiring photos of nature in the past, then you there’s a good chance you must have seen a breathtaking image of nature. It could be a photograph of the sunset illuminating the clouds with its golden rays while making the waters of the ocean sparkle, or a close-up of a majestic tiger licking its cubs. You may have asked yourself, “How did the photographer shoot that amazing photo?”
Nature photography, including wildlife photography, is becoming more and more popular among enthusiasts. If you own a digital SLR, and you want to improve your skills on nature photography, or you have an upcoming vacation and you want to capture the best photos, then these tips are for you.
Do Your Homework
Be an educated photographer and do your homework before you actually go out there. Take advantage of each place by knowing what you expect to see. Draw an idea in your head of the photos you want to capture. Last thing you want is to be completely clueless of your surroundings.
Have a Checklist
Like doing your homework, it pays to have a mental outline of the important aspects of your journey, the place you’re visiting and your possible subjects before starting your shoot.
Some State Parks, National Parks or wildlife sanctuaries may require special permits to access their area, especially protected areas. Also, you need to know about the time restraints, if there’s any, as parks and natural areas have their operation hours, just like businesses.
Of course you need to know about the expected weather conditions and be ready for the worst. Thus, you need to pack protective gears not just for yourself, but for your camera and other equipment as well.
Sunrise and sunset times are the golden hours of shooting nature photography. Thus, it pays to know the schedule.
Lastly, you should know the most commonly photographed landmarks, animals or structures in the area you plan to visit. Of course you need to be creative with your shots and give those commonly photographed subjects a new take from your own perspective. You can ask staff members of the park or the park rangers of the most photogenic spots as well.
Shoot in RAW format as much as possible. RAW files are unprocessed files, straight from your camera’s sensor. It contains huge amount of pixel info compared to JPEG, which obviously takes a lot of space in your memory card storage space. However, this huge information allows more latitude for easy and flexible adjustments in your post-processing.
Use Low Practical ISO
ISO and image sensor relates to the camera’s sensitivity to light. With everything else being equal, a high ISO number will need less light to shoot for an image. However, high light sensitivity also comes with high image noise. Thus, when shooting outdoors, your best bet is to set your camera at the lowest practical ISO as much as possible. Of course this doesn’t mean you should avoid setting your ISO up. Fast shutter speed is also important for catching quick movements such as animals in the wild, and you would rather have an increased noise than a blurred image.